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13 May 2018

Boycott threat over tea dues

Workers of Nagaisuree tea estate demonstrate along with their families on Saturday
TT, Jalpaiguri: Workers and family members of a tea estate owned by the Duncan Goenka Group in the Dooars demonstrated at the garden on Saturday and at the local police station against non-payment of wages and announced a boycott of Monday's panchayat elections.

The protests and the decision of poll boycott just two days ahead of the elections has left Trinamul leaders worried, as the workers as well as BJP leaders have started raising questions over the recent opening of the abandoned tea estates of Duncans, which, the Trinamul leaders have claimed, have happened due to the state's intervention and their pursuance.

"The garden was left abandoned by the company couple of years back, along with other gardens that is owns in the Dooars. After it opened, the management did not clear the old dues but only the current week's wages. But for past four weeks, we are not getting even the regular wages. That is why we have decided to boycott the polls," said a worker.

In the Dooars, Duncans had left abandoned a number of gardens in 2015. This had made the Centre to intervene but eventually, the state spoke with the company and with the insistence of local Trinamul leaders, it could manage to persuade the management to reopen most of its gardens.

"Reopening of the tea estates of Duncans group is one of the key achievements that Trinamul leaders have highlighted during the panchayat poll campaign. It had also left BJP into back foot. "The workers are not getting wages even though the garden is open. This is a fresh challenge for Trinamul," a senior CPM leadersaid.

There are 1,261 workers while the number of voters in the garden is 1,869.

Trinamul leaders however, have said that a section of BJP leaders have incited the workers. "BJP has failed to reopen the gardens of Duncans group. It is now playing cheap politics by inciting the workers," said Joseph Munda, the Trinamul MLA of Nagrakata.

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